Fred Smerlas, the former NFL player who lives in Sudbury, said he wouldn't toss his hat into the ring for the congressional seat being vacated by Representative Martin Meehan.
Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan also said he wouldn't run.
Both said they would support the candidacy of Air Force Lt. Col. James Ogonowski, whose brother was the pilot of a plane flown into the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Ogonowski, a Republican political novice, announced Tuesday that he's running and said his brother's death weighed heavily in his decision.
Both Smerlas and Sullivan said they weren't forced out by state Republicans.
"No one tells me what to do," the former NFL lineman said, saying the campaign would take a toll on his family.
"I have faith in Jim. I believe in this guy," Smerlas said, though he added he's not met him in person.
Ogonowski is the only announced Republican candidate. Six Democrats have announced they intend to run.
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